Brig. Gen. Bob Neyland (USA, Ret.) is athletic director at the University of Tennessee. He was head football coach at Tennessee for 25 years and posted record of 171 victories, only 27 losses.
From the personal point of view of an old-time coach, I was surprised at the weakness in punting shown by Duke in this game, at the climax of a successful season. Another thing that shocked me was that both teams played safety men from eight to 12 yards off the line of scrimmage, even when the ball was in the shadow of the opponent's goal. Thus they completely disregarded the possibility of a disastrous quick kick sailing over the safety's head, and rolling clear down to their own goal line. Since neither team ever used a quick kick, in spite of the obvious opportunities during the game, both teams were apparently willing to allow the defensive team to play them with 11 men instead of 10.
Finally, I observed with no little disapproval the tendency of both teams to gamble for a yard on fourth down instead of punting. Duke did this one time on its own 40. Against a more formidable opponent this might well have been fatal.
January 10, 1955
But all in all, this was a spirited game in which Duke as the superior team definitely deserved its margin of victory. The Blue Devils were bigger, faster, had a much better passing attack and benefited from the smart quarterbacking of Captain Jerry Barger. Barger recognized the weak points of Nebraska's defense and kept steady pressure on those weaknesses.
Duke took advantage of them by using pitch-outs to the halfbacks and the optional run or pass to receivers in the flat. With the threat of these wide plays always hanging over their heads, the Nebraska line was vulnerable for quick-opening plays.
An 18-yard pass to Sonny Sorrell, left end, and brilliant running by Left Halfback Bob Pascal carried to Duke's first touchdown. With only 35 seconds remaining in the half and the ball on Nebraska's two-yard line, Jerry Barger passed to End Jerry Kocourek, in the end zone, for Duke's second score.
At the beginning of the third quarter, the Duke team appeared lethargic and overconfident. On a fourth-down punt from his own 37, Barger kicked to the Nebraska 45, but the ball took as crazy a bounce as I have ever seen in all my years of watching this game of football. It bounded backward for 20 yards and was finally slapped out of bounds by a Duke player two yards behind the spot from where it was kicked. Taking heart, Nebraska moved with confidence and power for a touchdown and kicked the extra point.
Having many times in the past seen such a break turn a defeated team into a winner, I remarked to my press-box neighbor, "This is likely to be another ball game from here on out." However, it had the opposite effect. It shocked Duke out of its lethargy. The Blue Devils received the kick-off and moved to Nebraska's 19. Barger then threw to Sonny Sorrell on the five, Sorrell pivoted out of the hands of Nebraska defenders and drove across the goal line. Duke scored again on the first play of the fourth period, then once more to produce the 34-7 final.